College recruiting goes digital...and mobile

April 17, 2014 | by Christopher Hall

College recruiting is going mobile with a new digital signage and mobile integration.

Prospective students are taking the college recruiting process home in their pockets, giving a university on-the-go, two-way access to recruits.

Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisc., is piloting the new mobile-interactive solution from the Nervana Group, based in Lombard, Ill., that greets prospects to start their college tour and then helps continue the recruitment process once they leave the campus. The product is aimed squarely at the younger generation entering and in college now, "Generation D, for digital," Nervana calls them.

The solution is called "Admissions Board," and it pulls ERP and CRM data from the school's databases to set up a personalized tour introduction experience on a digital signage display. The system also creates a personalized mobile app — complete with a photo taken by the tour guide — for each prospective student, according to Nervana Group CEO Rhon Daguro. The app enables the prospective student to stay in touch with the school or the tour guide, and vice versa as well, he said.

"So instead of taking paper brochures, you leave campus with a digital artifact or digital brochure," Daguro told Digital Signage Today. "Really it becomes this very highly experiential memorabilia of your visit."

Carroll University had been looking for a digital solution for several years before running into Nervana, according to school CIO Debra Jenkins. The product that evolved was quite different than where they started, which was looking at more of a one-way digital signage communication system, she said.

"We came to understand that the biggest value in something like this was ... something that students could take with them," she said in an interview. "When you're trying to recruit students, they have lots of choices, and so we were really looking to find a way to differentiate ourselves to these students, and this technology seemed to be the ideal way to do it."

The system's been up and running for about a month now, and the single most common word used to describe it by students, parents and school staff is "awesome," Jenkins said.

"It's really awesome; it's completely unique; there is nothing like it on any other college campus at this moment," she said. "And so that is extremely valuable to us because they have lots of schools to choose from, and they walk away telling us that they have never seen this at any other college tour that they've been on. So for us we're anticipating that it is going to be extremely valuable."

Daguro stressed the role of HTML5 and the Sencha Touch framework in creating the high-touch engagement that has Carroll University and Jenkins so enthusiastic. The ability to create such pinchable, zoomable and movable platforms across any device or screen is a testament to the performance capabilities offered by HTML5, he said.

Also, the school will track which students have been exposed to the new system and compare that to enrollment rates to see how successful it has been in helping recruiting, according to Jenkins.

"It's a difficult time for many schools right now in recruiting, and so everything you can do to give yourself an advantage is important," she said. "And we think this is giving us a huge advantage right now."

And since the solution extends the school's recruitment capabilities beyond the campus, Carroll can continue to promote itself to students, Jenkins said.

"So again, that's another opportunity for us to remain at the forefront in their decision-making process," she said. "These kids are all on their phones all of the time, so the fact that they can walk away without doing anything else and have all of this information on their phones and for us to have that opportunity to reach out to them ... this is the first digital kind of right-there-in-the-world-that-they-live-in-all-the-time presence that we have, so it's extremely valuable."

Topics: Education / Schools , Mobile Interactivity

Christopher Hall / Christopher is the editor of A longtime freelance writer and reporter, he's bringing a fresh perspective and critical take on the industry.
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